Since Warp offshoot Arcola rebooted in 2018 one gets the feeling that the label is keen to make up for lost time. After fourteen years of silence the last few months have seen a plethora of fantastic Arcola releases from artists such as Lukid, Anastasia Kristensen and Basic Rhythm. Hot on the heels of a fresh drop from Lukid we now see the mysterious LEVL stepping out on the label with the LEVL#1 EP.
This eerie collection takes the same approach to drum & bass as artists like Overlook, Pessimist, Outer Heaven and the rest of the UVB-76/Stone Tapes crew. Rather than using punchy kicks and rattling breakbeats as a way to create euphoric energy, these tracks instead follow these sounds into the fog. Grainy atmospheres and thick pulses of sub swirl around the mix, and when synths enter in the higher registers they are icy enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
With its insistent kick pattern and little snatches of snare, LEVL#1 opener ‘Arcola_#1’ sounds like the gutted corpse of Dub Phizix, Skeptikal and Strategy’s ‘Marka’. ‘Arcola_#2’ adds a bad-trip breakbeat into the mix and comes out sounding like an old Skanna 12” that’s been left out in the sun. This vibe is further accentuated by the delay-drenched closer ‘Arcola_#3’.
The Arcola revival continues apace with LEVL’s head-turning LEVL#1 EP.